Mike Schilling

Mike has been a software engineer far longer than he would like to admit. He has strong opinions on baseball, software, science fiction, comedy, contract bridge, and European history, any of which he's willing to share with almost no prompting whatsoever.

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42 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    That’s good.

    I was worried that the movie would be awful enough that there’d be a plausible case (well, for the conspiracy-minded, anyway) that this was the result of one heck of a complex advertising campaign. (“How will we get Southern Babtists to see this film?”)Report

  2. Stillwater says:

    Personally, I’m not buyin the North Korea link the FBI is selling. However, Demand For ‘The Interview’ Is Shooting Up In North Korea And Its Government Is Freaking Out

    Who said art can’t change the world? In response, the NK gummint is taking some radical steps:

    the North Korean government has beefed up its border security inspection level, and even told black market dealers to not bring in any kind of US movie for the time being.

    That oughta do it!Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Stillwater says:

      Who do you think did it than? Sony received too much financial damage for this to be a really weird form of advertising campaign for the Interview? The entire thing seems way too subtle for the American intelligence apparatus and not really how the Obama administration handles these things either. North Korea is the only possible party with a plausible motive.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Couldn’t it have just been a crew of (or individual) d-bag hackers?Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:


        Stuff like this:

        Pretty much everything I’ve read by folks in the hacking or security business doesn’t think NK was behind the attack. Plus, the initial demands of the hackers made no mention of The Interview one way or the other. Only cash in exchange for not releasing a bunch of “sensitive” data.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

        reports I’m getting indicate it was definitely NK. (though i like the idea I saw proposed that NK had simply hired some Russians — that more accounts for the “lookie, we stole your credit cards” aspect of it all…)
        Of course it wasn’t an ad campaign.
        You don’t call the FBI over an ad campaign.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        What “reports” are you getting?Report

      • Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

        what I just said — that it was definitely North Korea’s doing.
        But, what the reports say isn’t nearly as interesting as who they’re from…
        (not the US government, that’s for damned sure! Nobody I know works for government intelligence… unless you count the CDC)Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        kimmi, I didn’t mean “what is the content of the reports” (I mean, I can read), but the actual reports. Can I find em in the NYT, WSJ, LAT, NBA, SAG…? Can you provide a linky so I don’t have to look for reports that you’re referencing? It’d speed things up a bit since I have no idea what I’m looking for and you – presumably – do.

        Unless they’re classified. IF so, I understand.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Informal personal interview. So nothing in such credible (and credulous) sources as you’re asking for.
        Not exactly classified, but not terribly verbose either.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

        So, who benefits when the FBI accuses North Korea? Especially when the press releases and the stories written about it all carry a hint of “What if they’re in the electric grid?” To some degree North Korea does; threats of asymmetric warfare capabilities require some sort of demonstration to be credible. OTOH, the entire homeland security apparatus, both the government portions and all of the outside consultants, stand to benefit enormously. How big a bureaucracy can be built, and how much profit made, on a trillion-dollar mandated upgrade of US software infrastructure?

        Microsoft’s fantasy: 50 million computers that have to be upgraded, and only MS can afford the $100M price tag to pass certification tests.

        Microsoft’s nightmare: 50 million computers that have to be upgraded, Windows can’t pass certification, and some chunk of corporate America pops for the $100M to have a version of Linux certified.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

        our electric grid is a shambolic Rube-Goldbergian contraption, a whisper away from a conflagration.
        the North Koreans are the LEAST of its issues.
        If you’re afraid of nothing else, be afraid of the squirrels!Report

      • James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Amazing, Kimmi, amazing. I can’t wait to hear what the voices in your head tell you next.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        kimmi, I’m really trying to find a thread of actual reasoning in your comments. I’m failing. Sorry. It’s just effing bizarre.Report

      • j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Y’all probably thought I was kidding about Kim being a top-notch performance artist.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I’m mentioning two things here — 1) a comment about who’s responsible for the attack on Sony (reasoning is admittedly vague)
        2) A comment to Michael about the presumed scariness of North Korea infiltrating our electrical grid. (this I’ve simply cited sources about… 50 power outages due to squirrels…) If my reasoning on this is unclear, please ask.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @stillwater, Occam’s Razor suggests that the Kim dynasty is the only logical person to commission the Sony Hack. We know from history that the Kim dynasty is very sensitive and hates being viewed as weak and pathetic. We also know that they also do some bat shit stuff on occasion like the Japanese coastal kidnappings during the 1970s. There isn’t another identifiable group or person with an identifiable motive for the Sony hacks.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:


        If you’re being serious in that comment (it reads like snark to me) you ought go read the linky I linketty linked to since you’re begging all the questions the linky actually addresses.

        If you’re being snarky, then +1 about the “Kim Dynasty” stuff!Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        There isn’t another identifiable group or person with an identifiable motive for the Sony hacks.

        That’s a claim with no support. In fact, given Sony’s history of being hacked, it’s a claim that is unsupportable.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Thanks, @kimmi, for demonstrating that you can’t in fact cite a source for your claim.

        It’s the Sony tanks all over again (again).Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:


        Yeah, both your claims are bizarre to me. Well, the first isn’t bizarre, it’s just bizarre that you’d think a private communication suffices to settle the debate over who orchestrated the Sony attack. The second is bizarre because a) you seem to think your response to MC refutes the account he presented, b) it obviously begs the question which he’s providing an account of, and c) MC knows more about the grid than prolly only a handful of people in this country, so the idea that you’re educating him about that grid’s frailties is, like, really bizarre even if it were relevant to the topic.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

        And yet, the grid functions very well almost all of the time. There are only a handful of places where large-scale failures are likely to occur, and those could largely be fixed by the additional of bulk generation and bulk transmission in selected places, and updated procedures. When you read the postmortem on the 2003 NE blackout and the 2011 SW blackout — and both happened in areas that have been in the “add capacity” category for decades — you find out that the fundamental causes of the cascading failures were essentially identical. Too many cooks, each doing it their own way, not telling the other cooks what they’re doing.

        Granted, the next 25-30 years are very likely to be ugly given the stresses that are going to be placed on the grid: addition of intermittent renewable sources, retirement of aging nuclear plants, likely forced retirement of many old coal-fired plants, and increasing distances between power sources and demand centers. Some parts of the country will be hit much worse than others. Some of the problem will be national policies that make it hard to deal with the problems. I’ve planned my retirement in a place where I think there’s a fighting chance of maintaining reliable supplies.Report

      • j r in reply to LeeEsq says:


        We also know that they also do some bat shit stuff on occasion like the Japanese coastal kidnappings during the 1970s.

        Good thing that we don’t know of any crazy, untoward or dishonest things done by agents of the United States government. That would certainly complicate the narrative.

        Also, I don’t think that you are employing Occam’s Razor correctly. Believing Sony and the FBI is no less complicated and involves no no fewer assumptions that not believing Sony and the FBI. In fact, believing Sony and the FBI would involve, for me, the extra step of trusting the honesty and competence of both organizations a mite more than I already do.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

        credible sources with privileged information. not that hard to fathom.

        I think you’re just misreading me, on the second. I’m not disagreeing with MC — simply indulging in a bit of mischevious laughter at the expense of the overly credulous press corps. I’m pretty sure he’s aware of the problems…

        Yeah, if we accept that it’s acceptable for major portions of our infrastructure to go offline (or brownout) during peak usage, then we’re doing pretty good. It’s worth exploring whether the extra money we spend to put redundant backups in place would be better spent fixing the primary infrastructure… (Do you have numbers?)Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        credible sources with privileged information. not that hard to fathom.


      • Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

        not really. It would be like Jay claiming he knew some details about the military. He lives in Colorado Springs, it’s not that much of a stretch of the imagination that he’d know someone in the air force. (Now, I’m not saying he’d know classified data or something like that! Just the sort of reasonably normal stuff… like… “pilots plan to fly for Africa if we ever get world war 3″… [that’s an actual example, so it doesn’t fit Colorado Springs terribly well. From a gabby guy stationed in Turkey, where the example fits far better…]).

        I haven’t been exactly shy about where I live, and Pittsburgh’s pretty well known for corporate counter-espionage (among other things). [Please don’t draw any assumptions from that — even the obvious.]Report

      • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

        All I know is that I’ve moved from “the airmen are so young!” to “the captains are so young!”Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I really, really hope someone has been cataloging these things over the years.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Kimmi, in all seriousness, do you even realize how much you come off as a complete nutter? I don’t mean someone who’s crazy fun, but someone who’s locked-in-mom’s-basement-typing-when-the-mittens-are-off crazy.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

        sometimes I’m surprised I’ve actually got citations for some of this stuff… 😉
        (yes, this is off-thread).

        taking me too seriously is probably a mistake in either your judgement or credulosity.

        So, If I don’t expect you to believe me when I say I got home to find blood all over the stainless counter because it’s surprisingly hard to perform surgery on yourself using your off-hand using a goddamned kitchen knife… I wonder, why do I bother saying it?Report

      • Kolohe in reply to LeeEsq says:

        “Who benefits when the FBI accuses North Korea?”

        Members of the FBI that had “figure out who did this” as a condition of going on Xmas vacation. If getting the Board to go from red to black is the only metric, dammit, they’ll get the Board to go from red to black.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:


        I guess your interest in squirrels makes sense, given their interest in you.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The question I would have asked is “Is it acceptable that we have limited blackouts when we operate large portions of the grid at capacity and a major component fails?”

        The grid is generation, transmission, and distribution. Do you have something else in mind when you say “spent fixing the primary infrastructure” that is more than increasing the capacity of those three components? I do, actually — things went to hell in the 2011 SW blackout because three entities, managing different sections of the grid, didn’t know what each other were doing. Fixing that particular problem is easy from a technical perspective but hard from a political one. Standard practices, some sensors, a simple network to collect the data, and a high-reliability computer system to make the call would have known that the proper response was not to try to shuttle power around the fault, but to cut off some demand in a specific area — temporary limited blackout rather than cascading failure. But to do that, three private-sector entities and two state PUCs have to give up their authority to manage their network. Politically, “add a third transmission link from A to B” is a whole lot more feasible.

        Beginning in the mid-1990s, federal reregulation of how the grid(s) should be run favored fragmented control and relatively local nuke/coal/NG as power sources. This is well suited to the Southeast, Greater Texas, and the old Rust Belt states. Much less so for what New England and the Western Interconnect states are proposing to do.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Members of the FBI that had “figure out who did this” as a condition of going on Xmas vacation.

        I like this. It makes as much sense as anything I’ve read, and more than a lot of things.Report

  3. Roger says:

    It will be tough to beat that classic performance of Kim in Team America. I still get tears in my eyes when I think of how “ronery” he is.Report

  4. aaron david says:

    Don’t know much about the hacker aspect of all this (outside my baliwick) but here is a good review of the Interview.

  5. ktward says:

    I’ve found the whole Apatow/Rogen/Carell et al universe a uniquely entertaining one. But that’s just me.

    I suppose that most of their films are, to some, funny only in the way a well-scripted fart or joint joke can be. Nevertheless, these films, whilst doing the fart/joint thing rather expertly, equally explore almost as expertly some very relevant human themes. (Come to think of it, I might say something similar about Wes Anderson films, too.)


    Thanks mucho for your review, @mike-schilling. As much as I instinctively felt I really really wanted to watch The Interview, MSM (and Vox- damn them!) had nearly convinced me I should skip it. You’ve convinced me otherwise. Thanks for that. Really.Report

  6. Patrick says:

    Up there:

    Occam’s Razor suggests that the Kim dynasty is the only logical person to commission the Sony Hack.

    Actually, Occam’s Razor suggests that the source of any particular broad corporate hack is most likely not a state agent. State agents have a particular goal in mind. Run-of-the-mill hackers break in and grab anything they can get their hands on.

    There are actually many, many plausible attackers for any corporate target. Many of those plausible attackers will use the same sets of tools, most of which are readily available for folks who look for them, and implementation of the tools doesn’t take a high degree of skill as much as it does time and determination (and poor security protocols on the part of the target, but you can assume those are more or less always the case for every target).

    So, sooner or later somebody gets a foot in the door. It used to be downloading a large chunk of data from someplace was itself a difficult task, but storage is cheap and bandwidth isn’t expensive enough to prevent somebody who has a foot in a door at a major corp to grab everything they can get their hands on, as it’s better to grab stuff while your conduit is open and analyze the data and figure out what to do with it later, after the pipe has been found and closed off.

    There is no particularly compelling reason to suppose that NK *originated* this hack. Given the general state of IT in NK, I’m at best dubious.

    There is some reason to suppose that whoever originated this hack sold certain chunks of whatever they got to folks who have their own agendas, though.Report